A/N: I'm back!! With my exams now over, I'm officially back to writing this and more motivated than ever. Hopefully this was worth the wait.

When it came to other pupils, there's enough mutual hatred to form a crater-sized boundary, topped with nuclear waste, just so that neither side could be ever think of finding some common ground. But with her, no amount of warning signs could prevent myself from lingering in that toxic no-mans land of love and hate. Yet she was utterly oblivious as to how something as simple as a haircut turned my heart into a treacherous pendulum.

Not that she could blame me for noticing the change- everyone had. Perhaps now she could understand, just fractionally, how I felt everyday, with every passer-by taking another glance and forming a judgement. At least for Lily the backhand remarks and comments weren't actually to her face, though several compliments were rather forced. Judging by Dan's expression, it took too many brain cells for him to attempt to conceal his horror until ten seconds too late.

But some stupid part of me, the part that allowed my feelings to become a pendulum, believed the cliche remarks being muttered. Part of me wanted to believe that the super short hair represented some kind of subconscious gayness, even if her every action screamed otherwise. At that very moment, she was perched almost on Dan's knee, their chairs jammed together into a makeshift love-seat.

Her boyfriend's hands steered clear of the now exposed nape, half-masked disgust not appreciating how her face and neck appeared more elfin than ever, more mature, more beautiful.

Enough weeks had passed by that the whole lack of a gender thing was no longer the latest gossip that swept around my peers lips; that was probably the reason behind Lily's new hair.

The comments were nothing more than background noise, a persistent hum in my hear. My only response, the only response I ever had was the wordless wall keeping everyone else far away. Only Doug has slight access, though his constant catch up on art kept conversations brief.

It was almost a welcome relief to hear the low drone of the bell. Time to exchange one set of faces and a classroom for another. Following everyone else in their robotic motion out of the door, the sound of Mr Stafford calling my name drew me over to the front desk.

"It's nothing serious, you're not in any trouble," Mr Stafford tapped the pile of papers beside his laptop, "You've probably seen me marking your class' mocks, and well, yours wasn't quite up to your usual standard, is all. Now it's not an issue, mocks are for making mistakes. But I just wanted to know if you had any ideas about why your mock didn't go so well- you know, timing or stress..."

I tried my best not to sigh. Lyrics from Everybody Hurts tugged at my mind, ready to tune out the cliches. Aware of where this conversation was heading, I waited for him to say it.

"...Or anything that's bothering you?"

'There we go,' I thought, quickly replying, "Oh, I wasn't feeling too good on the day, kinda under the weather. Everything's fine though, I'll do better in the summer sir."

"No, I'm not trying to tell you off, just, well, I've noticed that you and Lily used to sit together before Christmas, only...now you...don't," the clunky words trailed away and hung between us. Despite their vagueness I knew precisely what he was trying to get at. Judging by the grimacing bite of the lower lip, this was the sort of conversation he'd hoped to leave to the handbooks and policy makers.

"Sir, I'm sure you'd much rather be getting a mug of tea from the English office right now, and I need to get across school to technology. So let's just say everything's fine. I mean, I've been here for five months, I don't need Lily to show me around."

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